When Focus Home Interactive and Saber Interactive announced at the 2017 Game Awards that they were making a video game based on World War Z I’ll admit I honestly didn’t care about it much. To me it seemed like it would just be another so-so zombie game not worth getting excited about. Well World War Z is now out and in some respects I am actually quite impressed with it. Ever since Left 4 Dead 2 released back in 2009 I have been searching for another co-operative game where I could mow down tons of enemies with friends. Many games have tried this formula, such as Strange Brigade and Earthfall, but none of quite nailed that feeling until World War Z. However, that isn’t to say that I’m completely satisfied with the current state of this game.
World War Z is a four player co-op, third-person shooter instead of first-person like Left 4 Dead was. Controls are easy to grasp and learn for anyone who has played a third-person shooter before. The game’s campaign mode presents you with four episodes to play through that take place in various locations around the world. Those are New York, Tokyo, Moscow, and Jerusalem. There is some minor story elements here but nothing real in depth. If you’re playing this game for story you’ll be disappointed. Each episode is divided up into several chapters with you having to carry out various objectives in each in order to progress. These are pretty standard stuff such as escort missions, holding out for a set amount of time while defending a location, gathering materials and so on. None of it was anything I haven’t seen before but playing it with friends was still enjoyable. If you don’t have friends you can still play the game with AI bots which is fine too. Now this is a zombie game so let’s talk about that.
No doubt one of the most impressive things about World War Z is the huge zombie swarms that it hits you with. I’m talking hundreds of zombies who will rush you and your team and you have to survive and take them out. It’s a sight to behold and something I still haven’t grown tired of seeing. When you get to some of those defend a point objectives the game presents you with some helpful items in order to handle these huge swarms. Things like wire for barricades, turrets and other items are critical in order to survive these moments. Also much like Left 4 Dead there are more than just the standard zombies. There are a few different special types that each have their own ability. The Hazmat is a zombie that when killed releases toxic gas upon the area. The Bull is heavily armored and naturally will charge you. Screamers alert all of the regular zombies to your location and The Reaper prefers to hide and jump you when you least expect it. A lot of these are similar to those special zombies that were in Left 4 Dead but they worked so well in that game I can’t fault Saber Interactive for wanting to include similar enemy types here.
World War Z also presents you with plenty of gear and abilities to finish the missions and take out the zombie swarms. There are six different classes in the game to choose from with each one having the ability to be leveled up to 30 and unlock new perks along the way. Having a well rounded team can really help you succeed especially on higher difficulties. Medics can heal others while the Fixer is good at repairing things. Slasher is best at melee attacks while Exterminator is built around using fire. There are also plenty of weapons in the game to choose from and each of them can also be upgraded multiple times to increase their effectiveness.
Which brings me to my next point and that is the replayability factor in World War Z. With only four locations in the game that can be completed in a few hours the game runs out of content quick. The class and weapon system do give you plenty to work towards in terms of upgrades but the question is if you’ll be motivated to do so while playing the same levels over and over again. I’ve played each of these levels through several times now and the repetition has already started to set in on me. I’ve heard that post launch content should be getting talked about soon but we’ll have to wait and see what that consists of. The game is a bit more budget priced though so in that manner it reflects the content included. There is also a competitive mode in the game as well where two teams compete against each other in various modes such as deathmatches, king of the hill and more. Not only are you competing against the other team but also against the zombie hordes that will arrive at any given time presenting you with another threat to deal with. This mode also features a progression system separate from the main campaign which can give you even more reasons to keep playing should you enjoy it.
Visually World War Z isn’t going to blow you away. Again, seeing the hundreds of zombies on screen is probably the most impressive thing about it and the frame rate remaining pretty steady makes it even more so. Some of the locations are more interesting visually than others with Tokyo being my favorite. The game is in need of some polishing though as there are plenty of bugs in it currently. I played the game on a PS4 Pro and had it crash on me three different times. I also ran into enemies getting stuck in the terrain or just randomly disappearing into thin air. The game also had connection issues in the first few days but Saber Interactive worked to bring more servers up and things seem to be a bit better now. I’ve also heard about save games getting erased on the PS4 version but thankfully I didn’t encounter this issue yet. I’ve been making sure to keep my save file backed up just in case it does happen.
The game features some nice moody music as well that fits the aesthetic of the game. The sound effects though are a bit of a mixed bag with some guns sounding fine and others sounding kind of weak. The explosions from grenades or rocket launches sounded really good though. There were some rare instances though where the audio would just randomly cut out at times which was kind of annoying.
I always briefly talk about the trophy/achievement lists in a game as well and World War Z has quite the list. There are 36 in total and you’ll have to put in quite a bit of time to earn them all. You’ll be doing things like beating all the missions on the hardest difficulty, finishing levels under certain criteria, killing thousands of zombies, and fully unlocking all the perks for each class and weapon. Those last two will probably take you the longest so this isn’t a short completion by any stretch.
While it needs more polish and content to be truly great, World War Z is by far one of the games that has surprised me the most in 2019. I had low hopes for this game but it has gotten closer to giving me that Left 4 Dead feeling than any other game in the past ten years. That’s why I hope that Saber Interactive has some meaty post launch plans for it so that I have a reason to keep it in my playing rotation for some time to come. What is here is still fun though and there is plenty of upgrades to work towards so that you are better equipped to take on those massive zombie swarms. World War Z is a world worth diving into.
*World War Z is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
World War Z$39.99
- Gave me that Left 4 Dead Feeling I've been Craving
- Seeing the Huge Swarms of Zombies Never got Old
- Lots of Skills and Weapons to Unlock and Upgrade
- It Needs More Content to Prevent Being so Repititous
- Game Needs More Polish to Fix Visual and Audio Glitches and Crashes
- Pretty Light on the Story